Dom Joly: I'll go anywhere, as long as it ends in '-stan'

Share
Related Topics

I'm off to Kazakhstan on Tuesday. I've always wanted to start a column by saying that. Now I have. For fun and subtle hothousing, I play the world-capitals game with my daughter. We're both now pretty good – the only two areas that we stumble on are the more obscure parts of Africa and the "Stans," by which I mean most of Central Asia.

Most people know of the "Stans" only by their reputations. Which is the one where they boil people in oil? Uzbekistan. Which one has a leader who changed the names of the days of the week to those of his children? Turkmenistan. Which one do you not know anything about at all? Umm, well, most of them. Although not a "Stan," Armenia is another place I've always wanted to visit. It's in that part of the world and has a dispute with Azerbaijan, so it does count.

There are two reasons why I've always wanted to go there, the first being sausages. Growing up in Lebanon, I used to always have these really delicious spicy sausages known as bastourma, and they were from Armenia. Now I know nothing of Armenian cuisine, but if their sausages are anything to go by then it promises much epicurean happiness.

My second reason for wanting to visit Armenia is Noah's Ark. Even if they're almost certainly complete bunkum, I love historical mysteries. Mount Ararat lies on the border between Armenia and Turkey. Thanks to a dodgy history between these two countries, it's not the most easily accessible of places. It is, however, the site where Noah and his nautical zoo were supposed to have ended up.

Occasionally, a tantalising satellite photo shows up that hints at things on the mountain that are "ark shaped". I want this to be my next proper adventure. I know I won't find it, but I just really want to tell my kids that dad is off to find Noah's Ark. I'm pretty sure that I need to get funding and set up a whole expedition for this type of venture but people have tried this before and failed. I intend to stage a one-man attempt to find the Ark and, should I find it, drag it all the way back and donate it to the museum in Cirencester. Anyone who wants to donate then please feel free to contact the Indy and hand over a large cheque. Made out to Cash....

I've just checked a map. There are even more "Stans" than I have mentioned, and they don't seem to have any discerning characteristics. Kyrgyzstan... I know nothing about it whatsoever except that it is very hard to spell. Tajikistan? That actually sounds really good. I don't know why, but I have a really good feeling about the place.

Ah. I've just Googled Tajikistan, and it turns out it had a terrible civil war for ages and it's the poorest country in the old Soviet sphere of influence – and that is some achievement. Maybe I'll put that particular trip on the back-burner.

Afghanistan needs no introduction. And there are even possibilities for holidaying. Only last week, a company announced that it was running climbing holidays there. The organisers were all ex-military, which is reassuring, but I'm not one for climbing unless there's an actual Ark at the end. Maybe I could just visit that nine-hole golf course on the outskirts of Kabul that I read about? It was built in the early Seventies and there is still a golf pro listed in the Kabul phone directory. I quite fancy a bit more golf in the Axis of Evil – in the past year I've played a pitch and putt in North Korea and nine holes in Beirut, so why not?

But before all this, I'm off to Almaty. It used to be the capital of Kazakhstan, but they've built a brand-new one. The name? Astana. Perfect.

React Now

  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Telemarketing Executive - £20,000 OTE - Uncapped

£18000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This award winning IT company a...

Recruitment Genius: Solutions Consultant

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: As a Solutions Consultant for this Professiona...

Recruitment Genius: HR Consultant

£30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A small family run HR consultancy based ...

Recruitment Genius: Customer Service Advisors

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This winner of the best new business in Shrops...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

If I were Prime Minister: I'd make sure half of Parliament was female, and have a zero tolerance approach to sexual harassment

Gill Slocombe
The seven leaders of Britain's main political parties took part in the general election live debate (AFP)  

General Election 2015: The idea that one party can represent all that we believe in just doesn’t apply any more

Armando Iannucci
Revealed: Why Mohammed Emwazi chose the 'safe option' of fighting for Isis, rather than following his friends to al-Shabaab in Somalia

Why Mohammed Emwazi chose Isis

His friends were betrayed and killed by al-Shabaab
'The solution can never be to impassively watch on while desperate people drown'
An open letter to David Cameron: Building fortress Europe has had deadly results

Open letter to David Cameron

Building the walls of fortress Europe has had deadly results
Tory candidates' tweets not as 'spontaneous' as they seem - you don't say!

You don't say!

Tory candidates' election tweets not as 'spontaneous' as they appear
Mubi: Netflix for people who want to stop just watching trash

So what is Mubi?

Netflix for people who want to stop just watching trash all the time
The impossible job: how to follow Kevin Spacey?

The hardest job in theatre?

How to follow Kevin Spacey
Armenian genocide: To continue to deny the truth of this mass human cruelty is close to a criminal lie

Armenian genocide and the 'good Turks'

To continue to deny the truth of this mass human cruelty is close to a criminal lie
Lou Reed: The truth about the singer's upbringing beyond the biographers' and memoirists' myths

'Lou needed care, but what he got was ECT'

The truth about the singer's upbringing beyond
Migrant boat disaster: This human tragedy has been brewing for four years and EU states can't say they were not warned

This human tragedy has been brewing for years

EU states can't say they were not warned
Women's sportswear: From tackling a marathon to a jog in the park, the right kit can help

Women's sportswear

From tackling a marathon to a jog in the park, the right kit can help
Hillary Clinton's outfits will be as important as her policies in her presidential bid

Clinton's clothes

Like it or not, her outfits will be as important as her policies
NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders